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How to Use the Earth's Rotation to Your Advantage

I've had a lot of questions on how I took my most popular photo, so I thought I'd share how to capture star trails. Enjoy!

What you’ll need:
- camera with “bulb” exposure mode or light meter
- favorite kind of film
- tripod
- cable release
- patience!

Star trails are really simple. Set your camera up on your tripod (make sure it’s on bulb mode if it doesn’t have a light meter) and aim it towards the sky. In my opinion, the best pictures are the ones that have something in the foreground. Screw your cable release in and start exposing!

Now for the somewhat tricky part: deciding how long to expose the film (if you have a camera with a light meter, you don’t have to worry about this. Just make sure you listen for that second click of the shutter). If you don’t have a light meter, experiment! Exposure times really depend on how much light is around. 25 to 40 minute exposures seemed to yield the best results for me, although I was in the desert with minimal lighting.

One thing to keep in mind: you’ll want to be somewhere with little to no light and very good star visibility.

Well that’s all folks. Get out there and try it! (:

written by tjbeard8985

22 comments

  1. simonh82

    simonh82

    What speed film/aperture setting do you use for these? I'm never sure how bright star light actually is, so i've been afraid of wasting film on star trails that don't come out. That and the near impossibility of finding somewhere truly dark in the whole of the south east of England!

    over 3 years ago · report as spam
  2. xxxanderrr

    xxxanderrr

    @simonh82 do you have a digital slr that you could test with? because that is your best bet on all the exposure info.

    over 3 years ago · report as spam
  3. tjbeard8985

    tjbeard8985

    I used 200 film. And I used an LC-A+ for first two pictures so I wasn't able to choose the aperture. For the last one I used a diana mini set at f/8.

    over 3 years ago · report as spam
  4. shoujoai

    shoujoai

    Nice tip, I did an alien invaison picture that way http://www.lomograph(…)os/12953384 there I set the Lubitel to f/22 (I think) and waited for about one to three hours, don't know exactly

    over 3 years ago · report as spam
  5. novakmisi

    novakmisi

    great,congrats !!!

    over 3 years ago · report as spam
  6. renenob

    renenob

    Must-try, before i die.

    over 3 years ago · report as spam
  7. pomps

    pomps

    super tipster! I'll try it!

    over 3 years ago · report as spam
  8. renenob

    renenob

    how long was the exposure for the last photo?

    over 3 years ago · report as spam
  9. tjbeard8985

    tjbeard8985

    I think the last one was somewhere between 35 and 45 minutes, but I'm not positive.

    over 3 years ago · report as spam
  10. wuxiong

    wuxiong

    I must try this, but We have long not clear night here in the city, till the day they stop driving...<:)

    over 3 years ago · report as spam
  11. eva_eva

    eva_eva

    gosh always wanted to try this. but too bad, im too lazy >.<

    over 3 years ago · report as spam
  12. ceduxi0n

    ceduxi0n

    great article. we also went to joshua tree to shoot star trails. i think an important thing to know is where to find Polaris so you can get that circular trail effect too :)

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  13. gelibee

    gelibee

    You're very patient! Great photos! :D

    over 3 years ago · report as spam
  14. nicx

    nicx

    I love doing this but haven't in a while i am now inspired to do more!

    over 3 years ago · report as spam
  15. plasticpopsicle

    plasticpopsicle

    Something I've been wanting to try on film for the longest time!

    over 3 years ago · report as spam
  16. bylcuenca

    bylcuenca

    trying soon... =) great work!

    over 3 years ago · report as spam
  17. stonerfairy

    stonerfairy

    Thanx for this great tips on star trail on film camera.

    about 3 years ago · report as spam
  18. welland

    welland

    Can you not really do long enough exposures on the LCA then? I have one and it clicks when its exposed so can I keep going?

    almost 3 years ago · report as spam
  19. cecily

    cecily

    thanks for having revealed your secret :)
    I want to try as soon as possible!

    almost 3 years ago · report as spam
  20. theycallmeelton

    theycallmeelton

    Gonna try it as soon as I get a new roll of film! Cheers for the great tipster! :)

    almost 3 years ago · report as spam
  21. kwakken

    kwakken

    wow!

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  22. 110isnotdead

    110isnotdead

    Great idea, gotta try that :)

    over 1 year ago · report as spam

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